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The investigation reported herein indicated that breakwater construction and associated channel dredging activities by the US Army Corps of Engineers in western Lake Erie at the entrance to West Harbor (Ohio) had no detectable adverse impacts on the distributions or abundances of macrozoobenthos and fishes. Rather, increases were noted in the number of fish eggs and larvae and in the density and biomass of periphyton and macrozoobenthos on and near the breakwaters. The area also served as a nursery ground for 20 species of fishes both during and after construction and dredging activities. Colonization of the breakwaters by periphyton, primarily a green alga (Cladophora glomerata), diatoms (Gomphonema parvulum), and a bluegreen alga (Oscillatoria tenuis), and by macrozoobenthos, primarily worms (Oligochaeta), amphipods (Gammarus spp.), and midge larvae (Chironomidae), was rapid and extensive, indicating that the breakwaters provided new, favorable habitat for primary and secondary producer organisms. Marked adverse changes in water quality, especially reduced dissolved oxygen concentrations (25 mg/l), occurred around the entrance to West Harbor in 1983 following cessation of construction and dredging activities. These water quality changes, however, could not be ascribed with certainty to construction and dredging activities at West Harbor. Construction of additional breakwaters in the study area at that time by the State of Ohio served to confound determination of the responsible causal factors.
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Federal Government Series
Ecological effects of rubble-mound breakwater construction and channel dredging at West Harbor, Ohio (western Lake Erie)